Aftercare in addiction recovery is a vital aspect in overcoming addiction. It can be difficult to manage sobriety while going on with life before recovery, interacting with family and friends, following through with responsibilities, and being a productive employee at work. It is common for addicts, both in recovery and not, to have issues with keeping up with their careers. This can be due to work stress becoming a trigger to use, an overwhelming need to focus on sobriety instead of work, and the stigma of addiction affecting their peers’ perception of them. In order to succeed in managing the stresses of recovery while succeeding in your job it’s important to keep communication open with your employer, learn how to cope with the stress, utilize your support system, stay efficient, and recognize your triggers.
Transparency is key when it comes to handling your recovery at work. Be honest about your struggles whether this is a new employer or not. They will appreciate your honesty and be more compassionate if you have issues dealing with the stress of work down the line. Make it a habit to be open and honest about this area of your life with your employers especially. Let them know about your sobriety, the issues you might have, and the steps you are taking to continue recovery.
The important thing to remember when being open with your employer about your issues with addiction is that doing this is a way to protect yourself later on if you end up needing time off to attend a meeting, find yourself dealing with a trigger at the workplace, or you relapse. This ensures that your employers will be actively aware of your issues from the start. Your employer will then understand your special case and perhaps become an added support system for you.
One of the many reasons why holding a steady job can be difficult while in recovery is the added work-life stress. The early stages of recovery can be overwhelming and stressful on their own, so the added pressure can be too much of a risk for some dealing with addiction recovery. In order to overcome this struggle it’s important to practice some coping skills and practice them when you are feeling overwhelmed at work. First of all, remember to communicate with your boss if you’re feeling stressed and ask if you can go for a walk or remove yourself for a short while. Your openness about your issue will come into play here and your employer will understand your need to de-stress.
One way to ease any anxiety is to drink more water and stay away from caffeine. The effect that caffeine has on the body is not going to do you any favors while coping with work stress. Caffeine is a comfortable stimulus for many of those in recovery but it can make you jittery, irritable, and cause an upset stomach. Energy drinks have been linked to many health issues and water is a much better alternative even though it doesn’t provide the obvious uptick in energy that caffeine does. Practice breathing exercises, take a step back and go for a walk or do something else you enjoy, or find your own way to clear your mind and deescalate.
Utilizing Support Systems
Finding a steady support system is a great way to balance your recovery and your job. Find coworkers you can rely on, utilize any support offered to you from your employer, lean on family and friends, go to meetings, and utilize a counselor if you need. All of these support systems are there to help you ensure your recovery success and will be great tools for you to utilize. Don’t be afraid to be open and honest about any issues you are having at work and work through them with your chosen support system. It’s usually a good idea to not bring work home, but it’s also perfectly normal to discuss any work issues with your family or friends in order to help you work through your issues instead of being buried in them.
In many ways, recovery can feel like a personal experience with a lot of the recovery happening in your mind and testing your willpower. But it is vitally important to utilize your outside resources in order to keep your mind healthy. Talk to the important people in your life and keep the communication open, discuss every troubling thought and get help wrapping your mind around it. Focus on building your trust in the people around you and soon you’ll be able to channel their advice and apply it where you need it.
Sometimes the best way to work through your recovery at the workplace is to keep all of your focus on work and dive into a project that will keep you mind busy. Doing your job well and showing your potential to your employer is a great way to improve your confidence and feel good about yourself which can be a great thing for your sobriety as well. Focus on your work, work on going above and beyond for your employer, and make a conscious effort to stay efficient and avoid unhelpful thoughts. This can be a tricky thing, however, because you’ll need to balance your efficiency and your stress. Don’t lose yourself in your work and allow yourself to become too stressed or overwhelmed because that can be a hindrance to your sobriety.
While focusing on work, make sure you aren’t ignoring any responsibilities with your sobriety or covering your issues with a blanket of work. Continue to face any issues you have with your recovery head on and keep your communication open. Work on becoming more organized; lay out a schedule for work and eventually that habit may translate to your personal life as well. The key to being efficient is to plan, schedule, and stick to it. The more you focus on building a skillset and doing better the more your recovery will follow suit.
The reasons behind addiction differ for everyone and combine a few factors including biology, family history, environment, and social factors. The nurture vs. nature debate on addiction talk about whether these factors determine addictive tendencies, but the reality is that no one has pinpointed the answer exactly. The reality for many addicts is that the reasoning combines all of these things in one way or another. It’s important to understand where your addiction stems and be aware of it, not necessarily to lean on it for an excuse, but to be able to acknowledge where your addiction stems. This is something that you can discuss in a recovery program, in meetings, or with a counselor to hypothesize about your addiction origins.
Cravings and triggers are an unfortunate reality for recovery and they can be intense and brutal to handle. The key is to tell someone immediately if you are experiencing a trigger at all- it places accountability on you if you relapse. It will no longer be something you can hide if you voice your concern for relapse. It also allows that person to help you through the trigger. Know your triggers and avoid them if you feel like your willpower slips at all. Remove yourself from the situation and call a supportive friend, go for a walk, call your sponsor, go to a meeting, or whatever works for you in deescalating your trigger.
Deciding to get sober, getting sober, and staying sober are all journeys on their own that have their ups and downs. After fighting through the addiction and working towards sobriety it can be extremely disheartening to go back to work and find yourself unable to manage both your recovery and your responsibilities at a new job. Fortunately it can be done and there are many tools to utilize in order to work through your recovery while in the workplace. Just remember to keep communication open with your employer, use valuable coping skills, utilize your support system, stay efficient, and understand your triggers. With these tools you’ll be able to thrive at your job while also thriving in your recovery.